On and Off The Mountain-Stephanie Grubert

The nicest thing about returning to the area you were born and grew up in is reconnecting with friends and family. Last week I took a trip out west to see my Aunt Terry Drinkwine, who turned 90 years old this year and Kay Robinson, who celebrated her 100th birthday October 16, 2015. Ninety and one hundred are amazing milestones, especially when both women although frail can converse and enjoy their families. Kay’s husband Carl was the best man at my parents wedding in 1944. Terry, Kay and Carl have always enjoyed reading the Mountaintop Eagle.

I planned a full dance card of visits with my sisters, cousins, high school and childhood friends, and my former sister-in-law and my niece Sara, who was married in August. I picked up an extra lunch date with Terry’s granddaughter Clara after I posted the photo of Terry and my sisters on Facebook the first day.

Arriving in Seattle on Tuesday November 3 I went to my sister Victoria’s cozy house in the Mapleleaf area of Seattle about a mile south of Northgate. Victoria has a retail job in the University Village upscale shopping center and the new Amazon.combookstore had opened for business that day. The brick and mortar Amazon had a line to get in and the anxious customers were admitted as soon as customers already inside the store left. Victoria found a book she wanted and I scanned the barcode to bring up the price. The tech touch was in play in the new store.

We ate a late lunch, which became dinner for me as I got used to the three-hour time change.

Aunt Terry

The next day Victoria and I planned our trip to visit Aunt Terry, our mother’s sister, in the assisted living facility she moved into in April in Milton, Washington about 35 miles south of Seattle. Terry had lived 25 years on Camano Island about 70 miles north of Seattle after moving from Redmond, Washington and was now settled in a place close to two of her sons. While on a short morning walk, I texted a short notice invitation to my sister Mary, who lives in Kirkland on the east side of Lake Washington, the town we grew up in, and I picked up Mary for the outing.

Seattle is traversed by I-5 north and south and I-405 handles traffic on the east side. Round and round I drove, more miles in one day than I drive in a week in Mountaintop with my short 5 mile commute from Wilderness Estates to the Mountaintop Eagle. The freeways, bridges, and many roads are designed for heavy traffic loads, but even mid-day they are always busy. This was to be my first day of marathon driving for my entire visit.

Terry was thrilled to see Mary, Victoria and me. Victoria brought a taco salad lunch she had prepared at home and we enjoyed conversation and the meal in Terry’s comfortable apartment. Later we took a tour of the facility, wheeling our 90-year-old aunt in her chair. The thrill of having company to enjoy was evident.

By day’s end I had brought Mary back to Kirkland and we enjoyed Mary’s backyard deck overlooking her raised garden beds. Some tomatoes still clung to the vines and I picked a bouquet of dahlias, my mother’s favorite flower. I was off to a solid start for my visit.

Holy Names Dames

Thursday dawned misty and foggy but I still managed to get in a neighborhood walk before meeting some Holy Names Academy classmates for lunch. A group of women meet occasionally and Kathy Sullivan, who was one of the organizers of our 50th reunion last year, extended invitations to quite a few and we had a table for 10 reserved.

The conversation was lively and most of the group exchange messages regularly on Facebook so we enjoyed catching up and enjoying the moment. A chance to dress up just a bit and meet old friends for lunch was enjoyed by all and included a Facebook photo posting which reached many HNA women who said they would come to future luncheons.

Happy 100th Birthday Friday was my day to visit my

100-year-old family friend Kay Robinson. I had been in touch with her daughters Mary Kay and Annie and her son Fred. I got snared in the wrong lane on the freeway unable to make an exit to the I-90 floating bridge to the East Side. Off and back on the highway I drove over the 8-lane floating bridge through Mercer Island to where Kay is living in a beautiful group home with loving caregivers close to one of her daughters.

Kay enjoyed the visit as much as Terry and I had the opportunity to visit with Mary Kay and Annie. Tom Robinson, who is my age dropped in and I was astonished to see that he looked exactly like his dad Carl. The boisterous banter with Tom was very entertaining for all of us. I had not seen Tom in about 50 years.

Annie reads my column in the Mountaintop Eagle to her mother every week and the antics of the Rice Township political scene for the past four years was a hot topic. I told them we had some good stuff coming up in an edition they had not yet received about the East Coast Knights of the True Invisible Empire column I had written. Groups related to the Klan would have a hard time getting established in the multi-racial Seattle area, where all races and religions are accepted and embraced.

Kay’s family had notified friends and family that their mother did not want a birthday “party” so they sent out an announcement about the birthday milestone and requested birthday cards. More than 100 cards have been received to date, an appropriate number for the occasion. I visited five stores before I found one for a 100-year-old celebrant.

With Kay headed for her afternoon nap I connected with Clara Drinkwine, Terry’s 22-year-old granddaughter, who I had never met as an adult. Grateful for my iPhone Google Maps app, I headed back to the I-405 and started south toward Des Moines to meet Clara for lunch. 35 miles later Clara and I enjoyed exchanging family stories and I heard about her plans for the future. Clara has grown closer to her grandmother as she has gotten older and I was happy for that growing relationship for both of them.

25 Year Reunion Back on the road to Seattle and

another 35 miles back to Victoria’s house before braving the rainy Friday night for a trip to West Seattle to see Janet Wainwright and Sara Wainwright-Jahn and her new husband Andrew Feldman. The freeway was packed, but I kept at my mission arriving only 20 minutes past my originally projected time. I had not seen Janet, my brother Nick’s former wife for 25 years. I had seen Sara and met Andrew on an earlier visit about 6 years ago and the reunion was full of fun stories. Janet’s beautiful home sits on a bluff with a view of Mount Rainier on a clear day, but the warm gas fire and a glass of wine made us glow with the moment.

Janet has a movie promotion marketing business in Seattle and she and Sara and two employees keep the town informed about the latest releases. Janet has been in business 34 years and is full of energy and in no hurry to give up the fun.

Back on the road for the last leg of my driving journey for the day I felt like I had been a racecar driver in a video game. Home safe and tired I was happy for the visits I enjoyed.

Terry and Brian Saturday was another visit to

Terry, this time solo and I was happy to see my cousin Brian Drinkwine, Terry’s middle of three sons playing cribbage with her in the apartment. Brian lives about 15 minutes from his mother and makes frequent visits. We all went down to the dining room for the noon dinner, set out on white linen in fine dining style. The other residents were curious about Terry’s visitors, so I just smiled and nodded a hello when appropriate.

Brian and I stayed the afternoon reminiscing with Terry about our childhoods and current events with our families. A little conversation goes a long way.